EPISODE REVIEWS


Alec Baldwin / Luciano Pavarotti
December 12, 1998


What if reality moved backwards, and this was actually the beginning of the review?....

Greetings. The Shuck is back with another review for y'all. However, if you want just a review, you had better scroll down a while. This being the last SNL for the calendar year, I thought I'd take a look back at the season so far. Without further ado, here comes the 1998 SNL YEAR SO FAR:

 

THE GOOD

- Saturday Night Live is once again the show to watch on Saturday nights. The expected big challenge from Howard Stern has failed miserably. I guess lesbians and shaven genitals aren't the big draws that they appear to be. Even better, SNL has got people talking again. Personally speaking, at my high school, SNL is a topic of conversation and for our Christmas assembly next week, we're looking at about half a dozen skits gleaned from SNL.

- The new guys. The new featured players have fit right in, or at least two out of three have. Jimmy Fallon could prove to be one of Lorne Michaels biggest finds in recent memory. He has already accounted for himself as the best impressionist on the show since Phil Hartman, in terms of voices and mannerisms. Chris Parnell appears as the "normal guy" in several sketches but except for a dead-on Kenneth Starr, hasn't made an impact in terms of characters. Horatio Sanz still hasn't quite found his niche yet, but he should catch on soon. After all, you figure that a fat Hispanic guy has got to be funny. :)

- Saturday TV Funhouse. Robert Smiegel has outdone himself this season, writing some of his best work. Never before has SNL come so close to crossing the line, with really edgy stuff like Heteroy, or Clinton's apology in Real Audio. With always funny standbys like the AGD, the animated portion of the show looks set for a long time.

 

THE BAD

-Weekend Update. Colin Quinn is erratic at best as the newscaster. On the occasional week, he really shines and makes us think he has promise, but other weeks he's barely there. Of course, a lot of this has to do with the material, but the WU writing has been good this year. I suggest a new anchor for the show; Tim Meadows. We all know Tim Meadows will be leaving SNL soon, after sticking around for eight seasons, so why not gradually start to glean him off the show by putting him on Update? I think Tim's got the ironic edge that you need for Update.

- Will Ferrell as the star of the show. This isn't really bad, but it's also not good. Will Ferrell has been given a ton of screen time this year, usually appearing in seven or eight sketches a show, mostly in feature roles. Now, I think Will Ferrell is a funny guy, but I really don't think SNL should have a "star." Eddie Murphy was really the last SNL feature attraction, and when he left, the show suffered because he was their go-to guy. Saturday Night Live is an ensemble, not a solo showcase.

 

THE UGLY

There was only one ugly event on SNL this season. That was, of course,

- The Maakies. These were as bad as Funhouse was good. The "plots" featured animals dying in bizarre fashion. The dumbest thing possibly ever on SNL.

 

BEST SKETCH: A & E Biography on Puff Daddy 10/17

Honourable Mention: Delicious Dish 12/12; Jingleheimer Junction 9/26

 

WORST SKETCH: Laying Down Strip Party Ground Rules 11/7

Dishonourable Mention: Dr. Laura Schlesinger 11/7

 

BEST COMMERCIAL: Oops! I Crapped My Pants 9/26

Honourable Mention: Mercury Mistress 11/7; Shirt in a Can 10/17

 

WORST COMMERCIAL: KCF Shredders 10/3/98

Dishonourable Mention: Gap ads with Hilary Clinton and Ken Starr (for repetitiveness) 9/26

 

BEST CARTOON: Saturday Howard Night Stern Live 10/17

Honourable Mention: Heteroy 10/24; Ambiguously Gay Duo 11/21

 

WORST CARTOON: Maakies 10/3

Dishonourable Mention: Maakies 9/26

 

BEST HOST: Joan Allen 11/14

Honourable Mention: Lucy Lawless 10/17

 

WORST HOST: Ben Stiller 10/24

Dishonourable Mention: Vince Vaughn 12/5

 

BEST MUSICAL GUEST: Sheryl Crow 10/3

Honourable Mention: Eagle Eye Cherry 11/7 [he might have been #1 with a second song :) ]

 

WORST MUSICAL GUEST: Elliot Smith 10/17

Dishonourable Mention: Alanis Morissette 10/24

 

Trivia answers from last week; Billy Crystal and Michael McKean were the only two former cast members to host before joining the cast. The Blues Brothers (John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd) and Spinal Tap (Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer) were the only former cast members to act as musical guests.

No trivia this week, but instead a poll. What would be your all-time dream cast for SNL? This should just be based on their time on the show; I don't give two pieces of monkey crap about how many movies they may have made afterwards, just the SNL years count. Let's go with six men, four women. Send your choices to pollywood@hotmail.com and I'll tabulate the votes over the Christmas holidays.

And now, finally, the review.

 

[OPENING] Clinton is Really Sorry

Not bad, but it got a bit old. The presidential openers have been lacking this year.

RATING: 6.5/10

 

[MONOLOGUE] Alec Baldwin

Another "story" monologue. John Goodman is on AGAIN??!! This is getting ridiculous, but at least they poked some fun at it with his joining the cast in 2011. When Darrell says that he's done when/if Clinton is impeached, he's not kidding. Maybe they can bring back Mark McKinney to play Al Gore.

RATING: 7.5/10

 

[COMMERCIAL] NBA on NBC

Ah, it's always good to bash the NBA. With the exception of Michael Jordan, the sport is full of trash players. Give me the NCAA anyday.

RATING: 7/10

 

[SKETCH] Morning Latte

Not as good as past Morning Lattes, as I think the characters are getting a bit stale. The problem here, as I think I mentioned in an earlier review, is that SNL has a lot of sketches based around outwardly happy people who are really messed up.

RATING: 6.5/10

 

[SKETCH] Cassidy meets Katie the Clown

Yet another entry in the old "What the Hell?" file.

RATING: 7/10

 

[CARTOON] A Harlem Globetrotters Christmas

Good thing I didn't put away the "What the Hell?" file, because I'll need it for this. Cute, but not one of Smiegel's better ones of the year. Funny moment when baby Jesus started dunking on the Globetrotters.

RATING: 7/10

 

[SKETCH/COMMERCIAL] Save by calling 10-10-1776-5-28-1830-242-3-316-68-22

A funny spoof on long distance commercials. I was hoping that the 316 would be a Stone Cold Steve Austin reference, but it was not to be.

RATING: 8/10

 

[MUSICAL GUEST] Luciano Pavarotti/Vanessa Williams

This was kind of a nice change of pace for SNL. According to Sean Bradley's SNL newsbites, Pavarotti's a real prima donna. The man can sing, I'll give him that, but to ask not to be photographed from the neck down? Hey, Luci, we already know you're fat. From the use of cue cards, it looks like Luciano's got what I will call Vince Vaughn Disease (VVD).

RATING: 7/10

 

[WEEKEND UPDATE] Colin Quinn w/Tim Meadows

A really good update. The entire Quanzettes bit was hysterical. The other Quanzette (not Vanessa Williams) looked like she was about to break up, and I don't blame her. Colin's exaggerated "Yes!" at the end was also great.

RATING: 9/10

 

[SKETCH] The Delicious Dish

Perhaps the most lowbrow thing to appear on SNL in quite some time, but absolutely freaking hilarious. Only the Delicious Dish characters could have pulled this off. Infamous character-breaker Molly Shannon looked like she was going to lose it, but she held on. Incidentally, my drama class this year called our mid-term show "Salty Nuts." Premonition?

RATING: 9.5/10

 

[SKETCH] NBC News presents the Impeachment Hearings

Not as good as their impeachment hearing sketch from last week, but still okay. I loved how Clinton's defenders all just trashed him, but still said he should not be impeached. As a side note, why bother to impeach Clinton? He's in his final term, and he's done a lot of good for the USA. Polls show that 70 percent of the country think he should not be kicked out, so the Republicans had better wake up.

RATING: 7/10

 

[SKETCH/COMMERCIAL] Chanukah Hymns

This was okay, but really kind of offensive.

RATING: 7/10

 

[SKETCH] The Virtues of Bill Brasky

Not bad, but really a one note sketch.

RATING: 6.5/10

 

OVERALL: A good show, Alec Baldwin doing his usual good job.

The Pavarotti/Williams duet was good, but only one song? Rats. I had a really good Eagle-Eye Cherry routine for this week. At least now Eagle Eye has some allies against THAT NO GOOD (*&%(#%&*#&%ING SON OF A #%*@#&%*#&* LORNE MICHAELS! YOU CAN'T TREAT A WORLD CLASS TENOR, A FORMER MISS AMERICA AND NENEH'S LITTLE BROTHER THIS WAY! YOU'VE GOT THREE OF THEM TO WORRY ABOUT NOW! Isn't that ironic? I write about how Ferrell is in too many skits, Update stinks and how great the cartoons are. Well, Will was in four skits this week, only playing a big role in two. This week was the best Update in a long time, and Smiegel had only an average cartoon. Doh! Have a merry Christmas (or Chanukah, or Quanza, or whatever) and a happy start to 1999, everybody!

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10


Episode Review written by Mark Polishuk


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